You Gotta Know When To Hold 'Em, Know When To Fold 'Em

It doesn't matter if I am running a race, training for one, or if I am just in my normal routine, when I head out for a run I intend on completing it.  Normally I am a procrastinator. If there is something I don't want to do or something that feels overwhelming it can be days, months, years, or even longer before it gets done.... if it ever gets done at all, but with running I am not that way.  Sure, sometimes it can take me a little bit to get out the door, but I always do it.

This brings on a new and different challenge, knowing when the right thing to do is to take the day off, or when to cut a run short.  Very few times have I not known what I need to do, as my body always seems to make it very clear to me, the problem is when I choose not to listen.  I can be stubborn that way and all too often I will push through and make the run happen anyway, or keep going when I know a run needs to be cut short.

The motivation and encouragement from friends, both in the real word as well as the virtual world, can be great when you need that extra push to get out the door, or when you need to keep going when it gets extremely hard. Those same relationships, however, are what sometimes lead me to making the wrong decision to keep going on that run, or make a run happen that I really shouldn't be running.  I can't blame these poor decisions on these friends since they don't know what my body is telling me.  As far as they know it may just be me trying to wimp out of a run, and that is what they are there for, to encourage me and help me to push through.

Many times it is just my pride that keeps me going when I shouldn't.  I am afraid that someone is going to think less of me when I skip a run, or when I cut a run short.  I am afraid they are going to start thinking that I am a wimp and can't handle it, or they are going to start talking about me saying that if I would push through when the going gets tough I might actually speed up and progress with my running skills - someday I may actually be a real runner if I would learn how to push through pain.

This pride all too often leads to injury.

We all need to be in tune with our bodies when we run.  It may take a while for new runners, but over time you will learn the difference between fatigue and soreness, and the type of pain that is your notice to stop and let your body recover.  Not heeding these warnings can and all too often will lead to injury.  One way or another you will have to take those days off, but if you choose to listen to your body you can minimize the time off and build your base much quicker than if you are in a cycle of injury.

You gotta know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.  This is something I have had to learn the hard way.  I have all too often been the one that didn't know when to walk away from a run, and have paid for it with injury more times than I care to admit.

I am learning to set pride aside.  I am currently training for the Publix Georgia Marathon which will be my third marathon.  I committed to this marathon late, and have been trying to play catch up with my training.  I have been on the verge of injury a few times because of this, and have had to back off and take a few days off.  This is a pride issue for me because I have committed to this marathon and I know people are watching my training.  Onlookers may also be talking about it being too light with too many days off, with an obvious lack of long runs.  I have chosen to not worry about this and to train how my body tells me to train.  I will not set any new PR's and most likely will not even match my previous two marathons. but I will cross the finish line with a sense of accomplishment and injury free, which is enough for me this time.

Do you have problems pushing through when your body tells you to stop?  How often do you make the right decision and what is your trick to making the right decision?


  1. It's a hard thing to skip a run or cut it short. Feels like failure if you can't take the long view for the good of your health. You are not alone in that mental struggle....I do it too. :)

  2. I stay very flexible when I'm in training, so if is going bad I shut it down and rearrange my workout. I've always been flexible for long run days too -- leaving the option to run Saturday or Sunday, so if it starts bad on Saturday I move it to the following day. To me, no run is ever a failure -- it's a lesson learned.

  3. The course for that race looks fun! I'm from marietta originally. I'd love to run that race one day. Good luck with your training!

  4. Thanks for the input, and confirmation!

    Crafty, I am looking forward to it. I have heard it is hilly too - yea! :) Thanks!

  5. amen to this post..just did a 30km run, the heat soared, dehydration set in and we canned it at need for prise, just self-preservation and take it as a learning experience..great post

  6. Paul, good on you for seeing it and calling it when you did - thanks for the kind words!

  7. I do have a tough time cutting a run short for the same reasons you mention but I think I am getting better at accepting when it is time to do so than I was before. Fortunately it does not happen often.

  8. I understand Patrick, it is not easy, but it is important. Thanks for stopping by and sharing!

  9. I do have a tough time cutting a run short for the same reasons you mention but I think I am getting better at accepting when it is time to do so than I was before. Fortunately it does not happen often.